It’s no secret that bread (and all things dough for that matter) are my absolute weakness. Brioche is no exception and happens to be one of my favourite bread-y delights. I remember when my husband and I went to Paris (many, many moons ago…pre-kids and all) and we would wander down to one of the many cafés and order “un café s'il vous plaît” (one coffee please - and it would always be an espresso) and inevitably there would be a beautiful loaf of brioche sitting on the counter, just begging for me to request a slice. For the uninitiated, brioche is an enriched dough (enriched meaning the addition of eggs and butter). It is buttery and soft (like a proper doughnut) and usually a little sweet, with a dark golden, flaky crust. It is delicious just with butter and confiture…..sorry, jam….I’m getting all carried away with french (it just sounds so much better, don’t you think?!).
A stand mixer is required for this recipe (one that can handle mixing for 15-20 minutes) as hand-kneading wont work here.
You need to begin the recipe a day ahead as this dough needs to be refrigerated overnight for its second rise/proofing - this retards the dough and helps to develop the flavour. Don’t be scared off by the numerous steps - it is actually a very easy bread to make, however, it is important to follow the steps and the timeline. It is totally worth it, I promise you!
PS. How gorgeous are the Australiana kitchen linens in the photos?! This linen is handmade with love and the utmost care by the talented Sarah at Piccolo Studio and you lucky folks can purchase it on her website here. Christmas is coming after all, so get on it peeps - great gift idea!
makes 2 loaves
600g bread flour
12g instant dried yeast
130g caster sugar
12g fine salt
200g unsalted butter, softened
30g unsalted butter
15g caster sugar
1 teaspoon honey
1 egg white
Place the flour, yeast, sugar and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a dough hook and mix on slow to combine. Add the milk and eggs and mix on slow until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Slowly increase the speed to medium and continue mixing for around 15 minutes, scraping the bowl and dough hook from time to time, until the dough starts to come away from the sides of the bowl and starts to ‘slap’ around the bowl. Reduce the speed to low and start adding a little butter at a time, waiting for each addition to be incorporated before adding the next. Once all the butter has been added, increase the speed to medium and continue mixing for 10 minutes. At first you may think you have ruined the dough as it may look like a buttery mess, but persist, it will become glossy and smooth. To check whether the dough has been kneaded properly, put a little flour on your fingers and pinch a portion of dough and pull it so that it is stretched enough that you can see through it. If you can’t see through it or it just tears straight away, continue kneading for another 2 minutes and then test it again.
Once the dough is ready, remove the dough hook, sprinkle a little flour over the dough in the bowl. Cover with cling film and set aside in a warm place to prove for 2 hours or until the dough has doubled in size. It is important that the dough doubles in size, so leave it longer if need be - the time required will depend on the temperature in your kitchen (or wherever you have left the dough!).
When the dough has doubled in size, knock it down with your fist and turn it out onto a lightly floured bench top. Fold the dough over itself a few times to remove as much gas as possible. Place the dough in a clean bowl, sprinkle with a little flour, cover with cling film and refrigerate overnight.
Grease and flour two 11cm x 24cm loaf tins (or for extra insurance just line them baking paper). Remove the dough from the fridge and turn it out onto a lightly floured bench. Use a knife to cut the dough in half and shape each half into a log around 20cm long with the fold/join at the bottom. Don’t spend too much time trying to make it smooth and perfect as overworking the dough will make it soft and sticky. Place each log into the prepared tins, cover with a damp cloth and set aside in a warm place to prove for 2 hours , or until doubled in size.
Meanwhile, prepare the glaze by melting the butter in a small saucepan together with the sugar and honey until the sugar has just dissolved. Remove from the heat and allow to cool before mixing in the egg white.
Preheat the oven to 180C. When the brioche has doubled in size, brush liberally (but gently) with the glaze. Bake the brioche for 40-45 minutes or until it is dark golden and springs back when touched in the middle. Remove from the oven and cool in the tin for 10 minutes and then turn out onto a wire rack to cool completely.
The brioche is perfect as is or toasted, with lashings of butter and jam, or my favourite…..turn it into Pain Perdu….that’s French for French Toast ;)